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Will 'Carter-Richards II' work in LA?

By Dan Di Sciullo
NHL Editor


Dan Di Sciullo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Hollywood has always been great at taking old ideas and repackaging them to look like exciting new ones.

Now, with the recent acquisition of Jeff Carter, LA's hockey team seems to be taking a cue from the movie business and the Kings are betting that a sequel will out-perform the original.

After waiting months and months for his team's offense to start pulling its weight, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi was desperate to add scoring and he paid a hefty price to do so on Thursday. LA sent defenseman Jack Johnson -- a former third overall pick in the draft -- as well as a a conditional first- round draft selection in either 2012 or 2013 to Columbus for Carter, a mercurial forward with undeniable skill, but inconsistent results.

The most interesting aspect of the trade is that it reunites Carter with forward Mike Richards just months after the controversial duo who were abruptly separated when Philadelphia traded both players on June 23.

Carter and Richards were both drafted by the Flyers in the first round of the 2003 draft, with the former going 11th overall and the latter getting picked 24th. The Carter-Richards Era in Philadelphia did have some high points, like when they helped the club make a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010. However, the close friends were also criticized for partying too much and those rumors will no doubt follow Carter to LA, even if the claims were largely unsubstantiated.

In the end, Lombardi paid a hefty price to bring both Carter and Richards to the City of Angels. Back in June, LA sent talented young forwards Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn as well as a second-round draft pick to the Flyers. Combined with the package sent yesterday to Columbus, that's a huge ransom to land a pair of players that another team drafted and developed for eight years before deciding it had seen enough. Then again, the Flyers had at one point signed Richards to a 12-year contract and later inked Carter to an 11-year deal, so they couldn't always have been unhappy with them.

Jeff Carter posted 15 goals and 10 assists in 39 games this season for the Blue Jackets.
But, Lombardi's move is also a bit curious considering Richards has not exactly lit it up in his first season with the Kings and Carter had similar struggles during his time with the Blue Jackets. Richards has 14 goals and 17 assists in 53 games with LA this year, but has registered just one tally in his last 26 games. Meanwhile, Simmonds and Schenn have combined for 30 goals in their first season with the Flyers.

Carter posted 15 goals and 10 assists in 39 games this season for the Blue Jackets, and even though those are disappointing numbers for a guy who once scored 46 goals in a season, there is no doubt that LA's latest acquisition adds a great deal of offensive talent to a team that has averaged an NHL-worst 2.05 goals per game.

Like Richards, Carter is 27 years old, but while the former player has always been forced to rely more on tenacity than natural ability, the latter is blessed with size, speed and a tremendous shot. However, Carter's effort has been questioned at times, something that could never be said about the undersized Richards.

One thing going for LA is that Carter made it pretty clear he never wanted to play in Columbus, but Lombardi is gambling that the prospect of playing with Richards again should rejuvenate his career.

"Jeff is a proven goal scorer in our league," said Lombardi. "He brings goal- scoring abilities, speed and at his age he is entering the prime of his career. We also like his versatility as he can play both center and wing."

Ultimately, the deal for Carter is a desperate one on the Kings part, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't fill a serious need. LA is eager to prove it's moved past a long rebuilding phase and is ready to contend for a Stanley Cup, but being unable to score consistently has so far kept the Kings from making 2011-12 a breakout season.

Always a streaky player, the Kings are hoping they've snatched Carter at the right time to rescue this season. Although he is signed through 2021-22, how Carter plays the rest of this season could go a long way towards deciding whether or not LA makes the playoffs. The Kings head into Friday's action with a one-point lead for the Western Conference's final playoff spot and not qualifying for the postseason would be a huge letdown for a franchise that has been so patient in building a team through the draft.

After years of LA holding onto homegrown talent in hopes of erecting a winning foundation, Lombardi has gone elsewhere to try and rebuild his team on the fly. Who knows, if the reunion of Carter and Richards helps to finally bring a Cup to Los Angeles, maybe they'll make a movie out of it someday.

WHAT DOES THE CARTER TRADE MEAN FOR RICK NASH?

While Lombardi is crossing his fingers that Carter is the missing part of a winning equation, Columbus GM Scott Howson is probably elated to be rid of a player who turned out to be one long headache for the Blue Jackets.

Carter infamously went into hiding after being traded from Philadelphia in June, and although he eventually went through the motions of acting like he was excited to be a Blue Jacket, the whole experiment turned out to be a disaster. It quickly became obvious that Carter was an awful choice to center Columbus' star winger Rick Nash and Howson was forced to make the best of a bad situation.

However, now that Howson flipped Carter for a talented young blueliner and a first-round pick, it seems that the already hefty price to land Nash just went up even more. Nash is also on the trading block and the Blue Jackets are reportedly asking for a significant roster player, two prospects and a first- round pick to acquire the services of one of the league's best power forwards.

Now that they've received nice return for Carter, Columbus will likely be even pickier about what they want to get for Nash. Add to that the fact that the Kings were expected to be a major player in the Nash sweepstakes and the odds of the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 draft staying in Columbus seem to have gotten better.

Then again, the Kings' acquisition of Carter could make one team more likely to splurge for Nash and that is LA's Pacific Division rivals in San Jose. The Sharks, who are currently tied with Phoenix for the division lead and are just three points ahead of the Kings, have been one of the teams expressing interest in Nash and it's possible that San Jose will be tempted even more after seeing LA add a weapon to its offense.

The NHL's deadline to make a trade is Monday at 3 p.m (ET).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Dan Di Sciullo at ddisciullo@sportsnetwork.com.

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